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Appellate court says ex-deputy accused of fondling women must return to jail to finish sentence

A former San Diego County sheriff’s deputy sentenced to jail after admitted on-the-job misconduct with 16 women is poised to return to custody — again — after an appeal court found Monday he must return to jail to finish his sentence.

In a unanimous finding, a three-judge panel of California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld a San Diego Superior Court judge’s order that Richard Timothy Fischer must serve 956 more days in jail.

It’s the latest twist in a case that has sent Fischer behind bars for months at a time twice before.

In September 2019, on what was to be the first day of his trial, Fischer pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor counts of assault and battery by an officer, as well as one count of false imprisonment.

He was sentenced to 44 months in custody — although good behavior would cut that in half — and then another 16 months on supervised release.

In May 2020, prosecutors agreed with the defense that Fischer already served 956 of those days on house arrest — including good time credits — waiting for the trial to start. He was released from jail after five months.

But there had been no house arrest. In the runup to the trial, Fischer was out on bail, had to wear a GPS and had to stay away from the victims in the case, but he was not required to stay home.

Once prosecutors realized the mistake made in the confusion of the pandemic’s early days, the District Attorney’s Office fought to get Fischer back in jail. Superior Court Judge Daniel Goldstein, who presided over the case, agreed with them.

Fischer appealed. He went back to jail last November to start serving the time, but was released again in April pending the appeal.

In the opinion issued Monday, the appellate court rejected Fischer’s arguments, including his position that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to vacate an incorrect sentence. The justices also found that Fischer had not been on house arrest, and was thus not entitled to count those days toward his sentence.

They also rejected Fischer’s argument that sending him back to jail would be unjust, instead finding he simply would be completing a sentence that had been correctly calculated.

“It is not fundamentally unjust to require Fischer to do so,” reads the opinion written by Associate Justice Joan Irion. Associate Justices William Dato and Martin Buchanan concurred.

Fischer’s attorney, Alan Yockelson, declined to comment Monday. It is unclear whether his client will seek to appeal.

The District Attorney’s Office did not provide comment when asked.

When the allegations against Fischer arose, several women said he had fondled, hugged or tried to kiss them after he encountered them while he was working and in uniform. The incidents occurred in North County and East County between 2015 and 2017.

The circumstances of the encounters varied. Some women said the misconduct happened while they were detained or in custody. Some said Fischer had been among deputies who responded to calls for assistance, and that Fischer would show up hours or days later asking for hugs. Some said they agreed to the hugs, but then were groped.

Aside from the criminal case, 21 women have sued or are suing Fischer and the county. Some have settled. Others are going to trial, which is slated for next May.

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